At 12:01 AM on Monday, June 13, 2016, the Atherton Fair Oaks Quiet Zone was officially established by the Town of Atherton. Railroad Quiet Zones can be established based on criteria outlined in the Final Rule on Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (Final Rule), which was made effective on June 24, 2005 by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and amended on August 17, 2006.
Since 2005, communities across the United States have been able to establish Quiet Zones to improve the quality of life of their residents. A quiet zone is a section of rail line that contains one or more consecutive public highway-rail grade crossings at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded. The Final Rule contains guidelines and minimum requirements for the establishment of a quiet zone. The Final Rule was issued to provide guidelines for consistency in locomotive horn sounding throughout the United States. It requires the sounding of locomotive horns 15-20 seconds before entering public highway-rail grade crossings and no more than one-quarter mile in advance of the crossing. Train horn restrictions within Quiet Zones do not apply in emergency situations.
Atherton Fair Oaks Quiet Zone
The Town of Atherton has two public highway-rail grade crossings, Fair Oaks Lane and Watkins Avenue. The Fair Oaks Lane crossing is equipped with 4-quadrant gates and the Watkins Avenue crossing has a 2-quadrant gate system.
The 4-quadrant gate system provides a higher level of safety since gates are installed across all roadway lanes entering and exiting the crossing which fully block the crossing in the event of an approaching train. The 4-quadrant gate system prohibits cars from physically entering the crossing. It is an approved FRA Supplemental Safety Measure which qualified the Fair Oaks Lane crossing for Quiet Zone establishment.
Per regulations established and governed by the FRA, as the Public Authority responsible for Fair Oaks Lane, the Town of Atherton has the authority to establish the Quiet Zone after following a specific process of notifying and soliciting comments from railroad operators and State and Federal agencies responsible for railroad operations and safety, documenting responses to comments, sending the Notice of Establishment, and installing required roadway signage.